As reported by GfK, a market research firm based in Germany, there were a total of 1.2 billion smartphones sold last year. This is the first time that global smartphone sales has exceeded the 1 billion mark. And it definitely is a very big improvement over the previous year's figures. As a matter of fact, 2014's numbers are up 23 percent compared to the year before.
Howerver, for the year 2015, GfK is predicting that sales growth will cool down to 14 percent. Still, with a slowed growth rate, total sales for this year is still forecasted at 1.368 billion units, which may be not that bad.
What is the reason for the decrease in sales growth? Well, for starters, more specific markets (countries, regions) are close to their smartphone saturation point. This means that the industry must look to grow in other areas. One of them is emerging markets, where the number of people purchasing smartphones is still growing. The other area is in getting people to spend money for a different kind of smartphone, specifically newer devices with big screens and new, never-before-seen features.
And because there is a focus on penetrating emerging markets, GfK's analysts are stating that the prices of smartphones will continue to decrease in 2015. The reason for this is that consumers in emerging markets are often buying smartphones for the first time, which makes them more price-sensitive compared to repeat buyers. It also helps that Chinese phone makers, who routinely push some of the most inexpensive mobile devices today, are very aggressive in establishing a presence in emerging markets.
Interestingly, while the prices of smartphones are getting smaller, the screen sizes are getting bigger. According to the information that GfK collected, the number of smartphones sold with display screens of at least 5 inches increased 180 percent during 2014. GfK is further predicting that this trend will continue in 2015 as more and more people buy phablets.
Also, GfK's data also suggests that users of feature phones are shifting in significant numbers to becoming owners of smartphones. Indeed, in the beginning of 2014, feature phone users made up the majority of all mobile device sales. But later in the year, they are definitely transitioning to smartphones. Credit Android for much of that conversion.
GfK takes a look at the actual smartphone sales numbers from over 90 markets. Other research firms, like IDC or Strategy Analytics, examine the number of shipments. Since the volume of smartphones shipped do not always equal the actual number of devices purchased by consumers, the figures of these research firms are sometimes higher compared to GfK's.
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